One of the many new features of Apple’s iOS 8, released last month, is the HealthKit– iOS’s collective dashboard of health-related information, mostly compiled through the data-sharing of third-party apps. Many iOS health-related apps have already integrated with HealthKit– including LoseIt, MyFitnessPal, and JawBone, with more expected to join the foray in the coming months.
One popular wearable fitness tracking manufacturer, FitBit, quietly admitted on its customer forums that it has no plans to integrate with HealthKit as of now. As a FitBit wearer, and iPhone 6 Plus owner, I was disappointed to hear this (apparently, so was Apple: they have since announced plans to stop selling FitBit at its retail stores, according to Re/Code).
As I (and many of you) suspected, there is a motive to this non-compliance: The Verge disclosed this past weekend that FitBit is working on a smartwatch-version of their popular fitness tracker, reportedly named the “Surge”, to be released sometime before Christmas. Set to be priced at $249, the Surge will include GPS tracking and pulse monitoring, in addition to call & text notifications and music control.
It appears FitBit’s Surge will be a direct competitor to the Apple Watch when the latter is released sometime next year.
Likely, this is the major reason behind FitBit’s unwillingness to integrate with Apple’s HealthKit. And I guess, in some respects, it makes sense: FitBit doesn’t want Apple to have easy access to a treasure-trove of data on their smartwatch before Apple’s version is even released.
But, from a consumer’s point of view, FitBit’s reluctance to share its data comes at a cost: the inability to fully-integrate health tracking into the HealthKit platform.
At the current time, this really isn’t a big deal; though LoseIt, which I use daily as well, is integrated into HealthKit, it’s really the only app I use that is. So, presently, I still find myself in the FitBit and LoseIt apps on a regular basis. However, if the participation in HealthKit grows (and I expect it will), those companies not willing to share data with Apple’s platform may find themselves at a disadvantage.
When it comes down to it: as I become ready to upgrade my FitBit (it hasn’t been a year yet– but, will be, by next Spring), if HealthKit is a fully-functioning dashboard by then, any wearable not in the HealthKit program won’t be considered. And, I imagine, I’m not the only one to feel this way.
There’s still a lot of variables here: The Surge & Apple Watch aren’t on shelves; HealthKit isn’t currently a high-demand app on iPhones; and, of course, FitBit could always very easily reverse their decision. Still, as someone who enjoys their fitness tracker (and checks the app obsessively), this is one story I’ll be keeping a close eye on in the months to come.